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Are Insect Populations on the Decline?

Entomologists have estimated that there are 200 million insects for every human being on Earth, but some recent research has suggested a dramatic and potentially catastrophic change of course for their population. Scientists studying nature reserves in Germany discovered that the number of flying insects there had plunged by 75 percent in just 25 years. Extrapolating the results, the scientists said that the figures point to the threat of an "ecological Armageddon" that would have a profound impact on all life on the planet. While the reason for the sudden decline has not been determined, possible factors include loss of wilderness, advancements in pesticides, and global warming. Regardless of the cause, continuing to lose such large numbers of the little creatures would devastate human society and all of the animal kingdom, which relies on insects as pollinators, food sources, and agricultural catalysts.

Inside the insect world:

  • There are more than 300,000 species of beetles in the world, accounting for 40 percent of all insects.
  • Insects live on every continent, although only one -- a wingless midge -- manages to survive in Antarctica.
  • Approximately 15,000 new species of animals and plants are discovered every year, half of which are insects.

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